Watlington Wildlife

My write up of yesterday’s tour round Watatunga Wildlife Reserve near Watlington in Norfolk.

Watlington, just down the A10 from King’s Lynn, might seem like an unlikely place to see interesting wildlife, but it harbours a secret, accessed by means of an prepossessing looking gravel track that leads to a carpark and reception centre both of which are within eye- and earshot of the A10…

THE WATATUNGA
WILDLIFE RESERVE

This establishment, whose website has the strapline “Conservation Today for Wildlife Tomorrow” is explored by motorized buggy, which means that you need at least one person in your group to have a full driving license (also the walk from Watlington station would take some time and a lot of it is along a busy road with no footpath) and is home to a range of interesting species (birds and herbivorous mammals only).

Yesterday a number of us from NAS West Norfolk got to experience this. We used five four seater buggies and one six seater for our groups, with me sharing a buggy with our branch chair and her son. We had a guide who told us what could be seen. After a stretch along a sand track and then through a tunnel which was ankle deep in water we got to the reserve proper and we were not disappointed – lots of wonderful creatures were indeed on show.

After our arrival back at the reception area I got a lift back to the train station, arriving just in time to catch the 18:23 to King’s Lynn, meaning I was home just before seven.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Even with the difficulties imposed by being in a moving vehicle (with occasional stops, but strictly no getting out of the vehicle at any point) I got some splendid pictures:

I hope you enjoy these pictures of the wonderful wildlife of Watatunga, just as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the creatures yesterday, even in less than ideal weather.

Action Underway In All Championship Fixtures

A look at the county championship, solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser and plenty of photographs.

The game between Somerset and Surrey has just got underway after the first four sessions fell victim to the weather which means that all matches now have some play. This post scouts round the grounds to see what is going on.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Essex v Derbyshire: Essex batting first are 138-1 after 34.5 overs (no play yesterday). Sir Alastair Cook is unbeaten on 58, while big Billy Stanlake has the one wicket to fall but has been expensive, going at almost five an over. Nick Browne, the man out, scored 59, and Westley is at the crease with Cook.

Durham v Worcestershire: Durham scored 246 batting first and Worcestershire are 98-4 in response. Ben Raine has 2-11 and Chris Rushworth 2-38 for Durham and Tom Fell 40 not out for Worcs. Lees made 99 for Durham, with Brydon Carse second top scorer with 38 not out. Tongue claimed 5-39 for Worcs.

Sussex v Kent: Sussex are 177-4, already 32 ahead of Kent with six first innings wickets still standing. Tom Clark is 36 not out and Ben Brown 21 not out. Stiaan Van Zyl made 52. Darren Stevens who made his FC debut five years before Clark was even born, has 2-45 and Nathan Gilchrist 2-46.

Glamorgan v Yorkshire: Glamorgan are 96-7, play having started a day late due to the weather. Harry Brook, mainly a batter, has 3-15 with his medium pace, Steven Patterson 2-15 and Ben Coad and Jordan Thompson each have a wicket. David Lloyd made 31 and Billy Root 23. At the moment Michael Neser and Andrew Salter are batting for Glamorgan. Glamorgan’s other Aussie, Labuschagne, managed just 10. Glamorgan were 69-2 at one point before slumping to 82-7.

Middlesex v Hampshire: Middlesex are 163-9. This match saw one session of play yesterday and most of today’s scheduled play although there was an interruption for bad light. Gubbins made 51 for Middlesex, his fourth 50+ score of the season, while Blake Cullen scored 27. Kyle Abbott has 5-44 and Mohammad Abbas 3-42.

Somerset v Surrey: Surrey are 14-0 in the fifth over. There is no brother v brother element in this game as Craig Overton is not playing for Somerset. Leach is also rested, which means that Roelof van der Merwe is playing. Burns has 6 not out, Stoneman 7 not out. Gregory and Davey are bowling for Somerset, with De Lange first chance and Tom Abell possibly bowling ahead of van der Merwe in the circumstances. Craig Overton has been rested at the request of the ECB, which suggests that an England recall beckons for the Devonian giant.

#BBCCRICKET SELECTION GAME: PICK XI FOR 1ST TEST

The XI I picked is shown below (go here to try it yourself), and then I provide some supplementary notes:

You are given a list of options for each position, and some of the choices they provide are obviously flawed. My own selection is uncontroversial as regards the top seven – Woakes has to be an automatic pick in England, and absent Stokes who is recovering from injury, he is the only one fitted to play the role of genuine all rounder. I opted for Craig Overton at eight, because Oliver Edward Robinson was not available to be selected there, though Archer was. I could have picked Archer at eight and Robinson at nine and then explained that I would actually reverse their batting positions but decided to go for Overton instead and explain the situation in more detail. Overton is in magnificent form and I am not too worried about this personnel change. Archer bowled beautifully for Sussex yesterday and is clearly fit and firing, though Olly Stone could also be awarded that slot and the Durham duo of Mark Wood and Brydon Carse are also both possibles. Leach has to play if fit (if not Parkinson comes in), and I have gone for Anderson out of the veterans.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S MATHEMATICAL TEASER

Yesterday I presented the following:

The answer to the above is 18. I offer two of the published explanations, first a masterpiece of brevity from David Vreken:

David Vreken
May 11, 2021

By casting out the nines, (E+A+R)+(E+R+A)−(A+R+E)=A+R+E(E + A + R) + (E + R + A) – (A + R + E) = A + R + E(E+A+R)+(E+R+A)−(A+R+E)=A+R+E must be divisible by 999.

Out of the given options, only 181818 is divisible by 999, so A+R+E=18A + R + E = \boxed{18}A+R+E=18​.

For those who prefer a more thorough approach here is a complete explanation from Inesh Chattopadhyay:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off:

As I prepare to put this up, Surrey have moved on to 50-1, Stoneman back in the hutch, Burns in to the 20s, continuing his strong start to the season, and Amla just starting.

All Eyes On Durham

A look at such action as there has been in the county championship, a teaser, a few links and plenty of photographs.

There has not been much action in the county championship due to poor weather in various areas but I look at the little there has been.

GAMES NOT STARTED YET

Four of the six games have yet to see any action: Essex v Derbyshire, Yorkshire v Glamorgan, Middlesex v Hampshire and what should be the tie of the round, Somerset v Surrey.

Sussex v Kent did get underway but they have gone off for the light (inexcusable – find a ball of a colour that is easier to see under floodlights and keep playing). Kent are 74-3. Jofra Archer claimed two wickets in a fiery new ball burst and has subsequently bowled a second spell of four overs (his opening burst was also of four overs, suggesting that someone from England’s management has told Sussex to use him in short spells), while the third wicket, that of Jordan Cox, went to Oliver Edward Robinson who produced a corker of a ball that uprooted the youngster’s off stump. That brought Oliver Graham Robinson, the Kent keeper and middle order batter to the crease, but before there was time for a duel between the two almost homonymous cricketers the light intervened.

This means that the only game in progress is up at Chester-le-Street where Durham are 97-3 against Worcestershire. Bedingham, the South African born batter who has been scoring very heavily for Durham went for just 24 today, but Lees, the former Yorkshire left hander, is on 39 and Jack Burnham has 5. Charlie Morris has two wickets and Joe Leach one.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This one from brilliant.org is not too difficult, though I am removing the multi-choice options, deeming them unneccessary. Solution/ explanation in my next post:

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Three interesting links before my usual sign off:

This piece from the space academy details the discovery of the first planet to have been identified outside our galaxy. Click here to read the full piece.

Richard Murphy has put up a piece on his blog, Tax Research UK, about Green Recovery Bonds, as well as a link to a more detailed report on the same subject.

Now for those photographs:

Durham have moved on while I have been working on this post to 121-3, and Lees has reached 50, the 50th time in his FC career he has done as much, but he has only converted 17 of the previous 49 into 100s.

County Championship Round Six Preview

A look ahead to the county championship fixtures that start tomorrow and some of my most recent photographs.

In this post I look at the six county championship fixtures that will be starting tomorrow morning.

ESSEX V DERBYSHIRE

If this one has a definite the result the loser will be heavy favourite to finish bottom of the group – a win for Derbyshire would move them ahead of Essex with a game in hand on the latter, while a win for Essex would put them more than a maximum points victory ahead of Derbyshire meaning that the latter would stay last even if they won their game in hand. A draw would probably leave both teams looking at being in division three when the group stage ends. For Essex Dan Lawrence needs runs to keep himself in the England frame. For Derbyshire Matt Critchley will be looking to continue his excellent recent form with the bat – he is an outside prospect for England, who might bat him at number seven and hope that his part time leg spin will be good a few respectable overs at test level.

SUSSEX V KENT

Kent are in a dire need of a win, and Sussex are also having a less than stellar season, though a lot less bad than Kent. The big news is that Jofra Archer will be playing for Sussex. There is also a clash of (almost) homonymous players: Oliver Edward Robinson will share the new ball with Archer for Sussex, and keeping wicket and batting in the middle order for Kent will be Oliver Graham Robinson. Also look out for young off spinner Jack Carson, who has been a revelation so far this season.

GLAMORGAN V YORKSHIRE

Glamorgan have had one very impressive victory over Kent but otherwise things are not going too well for them. Yorkshire are duking it out with Lancashire for top spot in the group and with the red rose county not in action this round will want to take the opportunity to go clear at the top. Adam Lyth has been scoring a lot of runs for Yorkshire, although as so often the real trump card for the white rose is its bowling attack (see the 1900s side, the early to mid 1920s side, the 1930s side and the 1960s side, all legendary combinations, for examples of dominant Yorkshire bowling attacks).

MIDDLESEX V HAMPSHIRE

Middlesex have had one good result this season, the hammering they administered to London rivals Surrey, but have tended to pay a high price for having one bad session in a game. Hampshire won their first two matches of the season, but then Gloucestershire defied them to snatch a draw in game three, Surrey thrashed them out of sight in game four and Somerset gave them another hammering in game five. They will be hoping to cash in on Middlesex’s inconsistency to reignite their season – if they cannot do so a top two position in the group and with it progress to division one at the end of the group stage will be effectively gone.

DURHAM V WORCESTERSHIRE

Durham have been faring quite well this season, and a win here would put them well and truly in contention for a place in the top two in their group. Worcestershire are flattered by their current third place in the group – the extra points given for draws this season have helped them as they have drawn all five of their games to date, not looking terribly much like winning any of them. David Bedingham of Durham is in with an outside chance of reaching 1,000 first class runs for the season before the start of June. The strict feat of 1,000 first class runs in the month of May has been achieved three times, by WG Grace in 1895 (May 9th to May 30th), Walter Hammond in 1927 (May 7 to May 28, the final innings the of sequence 192 made out of 227 scored while he was at the crease, with five sixes and 27 fours) and Charles Hallows of Lancashire who got there by scoring 232 on the 30th and 31st of May (190* batting all through day one and the remaining 42 on the second morning). In addition to these Tom Hayward in 1900, Don Bradman in 1930 and 1938, Bill Edrich in 1938, Glenn Turner in 1973 and Graeme Hick in 1988 have all had 1,000 FC runs for the season before the start of June, but in each case with the assistance of runs in April, and it is this latter group that Bedingham is in the hunt to join.

SOMERSET V SURREY

This for me is the tie of the round. Both sides are in decent nick at the moment, and with Gloucestershire not in action this round Somerset will be especially determined to win and thus head the group. Tom Lammonby needs runs for Somerset, Tom Abell will be hoping to build on a strong start to the season, and Lewis Goldsworthy to continue the impressive start he has made to his first class career. Jack Leach, indisputably England’s first choice spinner at the moment, will be in action for Somerset as well, while Surrey will have Amar Virdi and possibly Dan Moriarty endeavouring to outdo the England incumbent. This match also features brother being pitted against brother: Craig Overton who has had a magnificent start to the season for Somerset, while Jamie Overton has been patchy thus far for Surrey. Also the Somerset keeper Steven Davies is a former Surrey player which lends things a little extra spice. Surrey have two England batters in their ranks, Rory Burns and Ollie Pope.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I am in the pleasant position of having more photographs than I can comfortably share in one post, so here is the first part of my latest collection:

New Materials For Cricket Bats

My take on a story that has come out today about bamboo being considered as a possible alternative material for the making of cricket bats (willow is the traditional choice).

This post is prompted by a story that bamboo, more sustainable than the traditional willow, is being considered as a possible material for making cricket bats.

A CONTROVERSY AND A PIECE OF LEGAL PEDANTRY

The laws of cricket currently state in the section codifying what is acceptable in a bat that “the bat shall be made of wood”. Officially bamboo is a grass and not wood, so strictly technically a change to the laws of cricket would be required to permit the construction of bamboo bats.

The reason for this requirement being codified into law dates back to the post-Packer concord series of 1979-80 when Australia, with the World Series Cricket players restored to the fold, played three test matches against each of England and the West Indies. In one of the Australia v England matches Dennis Lillee, one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game and a competent lower order batter came to wicket bearing an aluminium bat, having come to a financial arrangement with the manufacturer. Mike Brearley, the England skipper, was less than impressed, quickly noting two things: firstly that every time the bat made contact with the ball it made an ugly clanging sound and secondly and more importantly that the impacts of this new type of bat on the ball were damaging to said item. There was an on-field spat, and Lillee, instructed to revert to a wooden bat, hurled the aluminium implement away in disgust.

To prevent the aluminium bat from making further appearances an addition was made to the laws of cricket, and the overly restrictive formula that ‘the bat shall be made of wood’ came into being.

ON ALTERNATIVE
BAT MATERIALS

Although it is technically grass and not wood (this distinction is to my mind a piece of legal pedantry in the David Allen Green class) I do not see a lot of difference between a wooden bat and a bamboo one in terms of either the effect its impact has on the ball or the distances the ball can be hit with it (I would object to a cork bat on the latter grounds – the natural springiness of cork would surely cause a bat made of that material to send a ball much greater distances) and this to me is the key. I would say that new materials for bats would need rigorous testing to ensure that they do not damage the ball, that the noise of the impact of bat on ball is not positively unpleasant, and that they do not radically alter the game by having a massive effect on the distances that balls can be struck. Rather than worry overmuch about the type of material from which the bat is constructed its effect on the game should be the key criteria. If it can be demonstrated that a bamboo bat will work not too differently to the traditional willow I would have no objection to such being used.

Possibly the keenest statisticians (are you reading this James McCaghrey?) will come to produce tables comparing scoring by batters with wooden implements and with bamboo to analyse whether the different material is having any great effect.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…

County Championship Round Up

A look at the county championship at half way in it’s ‘conference’ stage, solutions to a couple of mathematical teasers and plenty of photographs.

Although two teams, Derbyshire and Durham, did not play in the last round of the championship which concluded yesterday most have played five matches which makes it halfway through the ‘conference’ stage of the season. Thus it is an appropriate time to look at the groups in detail.

SOMERSET CLOSE OUT HAMPSHIRE

After I finished yesterday’s post only one match had a definite result, Somerset beating Hampshire by 10 wickets. Josh Davey and Craig Overton each took five wickets in the second Hampshire innings, and Byrom needed only one delivery to score the two runs Somerset required for victory. Felix Organ for Hampshire scored seven off 108 balls, one of the slowest innings in the history of the championship. The slowest non-duck (ducks by definition don’t have a scoring rate!) in championship history was Brian Hardie’s four singles in 142 minutes for Essex in the 1970s, while Lancashire stonewaller of the 19th century Dick Barlow (the Barlow of “my Hornby and my Barlow, long ago”) twice played innings of five in 150 minutes. Ever since Gloucestershire prevented them from making it three wins out of three Hampshire have done very little right. Here Organ’s abandonment of any attempt to score runs cost them, as they only just avoided the innings defeat and simply could not put Somerset under time pressure. When Gloucestershire saved the match against Hampshire the draw was accepted because Gloucestershire were about 60 ahead and Hampshire would only have had three overs in which to chase them even had they taken the final Gloucestershire wicket. Hampshire’s approach in their second innings basically left them only one route out of trouble: bat for the whole of the remainder of the match.

THE GROUPS AT HALFWAY

All tables copied from www.cricinfo.com:

Group 1

TEAMMWLDPT
NOTTS521273
WARKS521267
WORCS500566
DURH411253
ESSEX512252
DERBS401340

Durham and Derbyshire were not involved in the last round of fixtures. From the point of view of 5th place Essex, stuffed by Nottinghamshire in the last round, a victory for Derbyshire in that match would be preferable even though it would temporarily put them last: if Derbyshire won they would have between 56 and 64 points depending on bonus points, and Durham between 53 and 61, meaning that Essex would be 15 points off second place, while a Durham win would mean they have between 69 and 77, and Derbyshire between 40 and 48, giving a worst case scenario of Essex being 21 points behind second place. Also, the Durham win would mean that Worcs on 66 points, 14 better than Essex are in fourth, making even the modest achievement of a place in division two for the closing stage of the season tough for Essex, whereas a Derbyshire win would mean that at worst 4th place is on 61 (if Durham score full bonus points in defeat), nine better than Essex and not too much of a challenge to overhaul. The anomaly in this group, caused by the decision to award extra points for the draw this season in that Worcestershire, yet to win a game, are third out of six. For the group as a whole, a big win for Durham in that game in hand would probably be the best result, sending them top and effectively making it three clubs battling for the top two spots and three clubs fighting to avoid ending up in division three.

Group 2

TEAMMWLDPT
GLOUC540195
SOM541082
HANTS522162
SURR512259
MIDDX514041
LEICS503240

A clearer picture in this group, with Gloucestershire and Somerset looking likely to hold on to the top two places, Hampshire and Surrey third and fourth and Middlesex and Leicestershire bringing up the rear. Somerset’s position is especially meritorious as they started on minus eight due to a particularly graceless complaint from Essex being acted on by the ECB (the pitch, for a game that Somerset had to win to become champions in 2019, was a poor one, but no action was taken during the game, and Essex did enough to take the title, which makes their subsequent action in putting in an official complaint especially mean spirited). Middlesex have been good for long periods of most of their games, but when they go off the rails it tends to be in a big way – crashing through the protective barriers and down into a deep ravine littered with boulders. They had the better of the first innings in each of their games against Somerset but had two horror batting collapses in the second innings of those games which gave Somerset two chases that were stiff but manageable and both of which they pulled off. Leicestershire have decent batting but a calamitous lack of bowling. Hampshire started excellently but after being baulked by Gloucestershire in their third match have been able to do little right. Surrey have had their moments, such as their utter destruction of Hampshire in round four but also handed Middlesex their only win of the season, at Lord’s. Gloucestershire have been superb.

Group 3

TEAMMWLDPT
LANCS530293
YORKS530286
NHNTS522168
GLAM512258
SUSS513148
KENT503238

The roses counties are dominating this group, though Northamptonshire are still just about in the hunt for second place. Kent’s struggles are mysterious – they have what looks a decent squad, but no one has been performing consistently. The batting in particular has been poor, while their bowling has been over reliant on the veteran Darren Stevens. Sussex are struggling with the bat – they have some very impressive bowlers. It is very likely that Oliver Edward Robinson will be involved with England and so miss quite a few games which will make their already tough task even tougher.

SOLUTIONS

Each of my previous two posts contained a mathematical teaser from brilliant.org. I now present solutions and explanations:

From two days ago:

The answer is that Saed wins. Here is Saya Suka’a published explanation:

There are only 14 maximum legal moves possible with this arrangement, so the player taking the even turns will win (if they can preserve it up to the very last turn).

Okay, so they can go rook but no castling allowed. The spaces are 1-2-1-2-1, and it’s a game of “Go East”, so we are only interested with the 2-1-2-1 part of the spaces. The leftmost token has a twin in the second one from the right, and the other two are also likewise. The magic incantation is “Mirror, mirror until you hit the wall”.

From yesterday:

I asked you to name a five minute time frame for Ivan’s return, because brilliant had given a set of multi-choice options that basically killed the problem. When Ivan sets out the time is between three and four, so the hour hand is somewhere between those two numbers on the clock face. We are then told that he returned between seven and eight and noticed that the position of the hour and minute hands were reversed from when he went out, which means that the hour hand is between seven and eight and the minute hand is between three and four. When the minute hand is positioned at three it is fifteen minutes past the hour, and when the minute hand is positioned at four it is twenty minutes past the hour. Thus if we call the exact time of Ivan’s return T, then in mathematical notation 7:15<T<7:20 – Ivan got home some time after 7:15 and before 7:20.

Brilliant’s four multi-choice options were 7:15, 7:18. 7:35 and 7:37, and as you can see only one of those is actually within the time frame – 7:15 is one edge of said frame and not actually quite a possible time. This poor selection of possible answers spoiled a really good problem.

My thanks to Charlotte Hoather, who commented with her answer, a good effort, yesterday.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…

Somerset Against The Clock

A look at Hampshire v Somerset and the rest of the closing stages of the fifth round of Championship matches, plus a teaser, plus some photographs.

Welcome to this post, which looks at the closing stages of the current round of County Championship fixtures, with particular attention on the game at Southampton.

SOMERSET ON SONG

Yesterday was a near universal washout in the County Championship, but this game did see some action, during which Somerset claimed the wicket of Sam Northeast. When the light closed in Hampshire were 110-4, still 147 to the bad. Hampshire have dug in and fought hard, but their inability to score with any speed means that they are still highly likely to lose this match. Joe Weatherley fell for 44 after 279 minutes and 209 balls of resistance, James Vince made 42, and Liam Dawson and Lewis McManus have also come and gone. Hampshire are currently 198-8, still 59 short of avoiding the innings defeat, with Felix Organ and Keith Barker batting together and only Mohammad Abbas, a genuine no11, to come. Craig Overton has bowled magnificently, his current figures being 34-16-45-5. Josh Davey has 3-27 from 21 overs. Hampshire are going at 1.8. If this had been a first innings performance Hampshire would have batted the whole 110 over bonus point period and not accrued a single point, while Somerset would have two of a possible three. The trouble with this ultra-attritional approach of Hampshire’s is that if they do not bat right through the day they will certainly lose the match – there is no runs/time equation for Somerset to worry about.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Three matches have already concluded. Middlesex were beaten by Gloucestershire yesterday, consolidating the latter’s hold on top place in the group. Middlesex had conceded a first innings lead of 63 (210 plays 273) and a second innings batting collapse then left Gloucestershire needing only 90 to win, a feat they accomplished without much trouble. Middlesex have been in the game or even ahead of the game at some point or other of most of their matches, but have had a tendency to have a horror session that costs them the game.

Nottinghamshire have beaten Essex by an innings and 30 runs. Essex managed just 99 and 194.

Northamptonshire routed Sussex by an innings and 120 runs. Sussex slumped to 106 all out in the first innings, Northants declared on 441-9 and Sussex could do no better than 215 at the second attempt. Only Oliver Edward Robinson, with 49 not out in the first Sussex dig and bowling figures of 5-58 had a decent match for Sussex.

Barring miracles all the other games are going end in draws due to the intervention of the weather.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

With Somerset’s main opposition being the clock this one seemed appropriate for today. I have reframed the problem slightly from the brilliant.org version because their version opened up a hack, of which I duly availed myself. I reproduce most of the problem below before ending with my own formulation:

Brilliant offered four possible answers, and their choices spoiled the problem by making it impossible not to solve. Instead I ask you to give a five minute window within which Ivan got back. Solutions to both this and yesterday’s teaser in my next blog post, and a full explanation of the flaw in the brilliant multi-choice options.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England Potential Bowlers

A look at potential bowling options for England, a couple of links, a mathematical puzzle and some photographs.

Welcome to this post which features a few bonus features. The weather has ensured that developments in the County Championship do not warrant a post today, so I am looking at possible bowling options for England.

ENGLAND BOWLING PICKS

I am going to work through the options starting with out and out speedsters and ending with four players, two of them very much future rather than present prospects, who would not be picked purely for their bowling but might be used a few overs here and there.

The are four out and out fast bowlers who the selectors might well pick: Jofra Archer, Brydon Carse, Olly Stone and Mark Wood. Three of these have already played test cricket, while Carse has been making waves over the last couple of years. Personally given his injury history and his value in limited overs cricket I would be chary of picking Wood for test matches. Archer and Stone could both easily play, and Carse is an extra option. On home tracks I do not see more than one bowler from this bracket being warranted, but some overseas tracks may well warrant two or more out and out speedsters (Perth and Johannesburg spring to mind).

Right arm medium-fast/ fast-medium: There are many English bowlers in this bracket with excellent FC records, but to me six have definite England claims. The two veterans Anderson and Broad will probably rotate, though there may be situation in which both get selected. Oliver Edward Robinson and Craig Overton are both having storming seasons, have superb career records and would seem to be in a head to head for the no8 slot. With Stokes currently injured it is quite likely that an all rounder will be selected to bat at no7, and the two main candidates for that role in this bracket are Chris Woakes and Ryan Higgins. Woakes if definitely fit would be the first choice, especially with the first test taking place at his northwest London fiefdom, aka Lord’s.

Left arm medium to fast-medium: Sam Curran is the obvious bowler of this type for England to turn to, and could possibly bat as high as seven, though eight seems more realistic for him at present. George Garton is another promising talent in this bracket, and Sussex have him batting at no7 at the moment.

Spinners: Jack Leach is the man in possession, and it is wildly unlikely that a home pitch will warrant the selection of two specialist spinners. Matt Parkinson (leg spin), Jack Carson and Amar Virdi (both off spin) have all had big performances this season, and given the slim pickings England off spinners have generally had in Australia Parkinson is probably the current no2. Finally, there remains the possibility of offering Sophie Ecclestone who has an extraordinary record in women’s internationals her opportunity to perform alongside the men.

Batters who bowl: Obviously Stokes (LHB, RF) would if fit be preeminent in this category, but he is currently injured. Matt Critchley of Derbyshire (RHB, LS) is having a superb season with the bat and it is quite possible that England would select him and give him a few overs here and there in addition to using his batting. A couple of youngsters who will be on the radar in the near future are Lewis Goldsworthy of Somerset (RHB, SLA) and Luke Hollman of Middlesex (RHB, LS). Goldsworthy hasn’t yet bowled in FC cricket, but has scored 39, 41 not out and 24 in his three innings, and the last two were knocks played under considerable pressure on pitches that were not straightforward.

Myself given that the next test match is at Lord’s I would be going with Woakes and Oliver Edward Robinson at seven and eight, with commiserations to Craig Overton. My team would look something like: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, OE Robinson, Stone, Leach, Anderson. Archer, Carse or Wood could take Stone’s place and of course Broad could play ahead of Anderson depending on form or fitness.

A COUPLE OF LINKS

The Lynn News are running a poll for who should be their Charity of the Year, and NAS West Norfolk, of which I am branch secretary, are among the nominees. Please read the article and vote for us by clicking here.

Phoebe has one again opened up her blog for people to promote their own blogs, and I urge you to visit and check out some of the blogs advertising themselves there. Please click here to do so.

A MATHEMATICAL PUZZLE

This is a fun problem from brilliant.org:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Leaden sky and persistent rain are not the best conditions for photography, but I do have some pictures to share with you:

Somerset Steamrollering at Southampton

A look at goings on at the Ageas Bowl, where Hampshire and Somerset are doing battle, a scoot round the other grounds where there is championship action and lots of photographs.

This post looks at goings at the Ageas Bowl, where Somerset and Hampshire having been doing battle, before taking a quick look around the other grounds where there is county championship action.

OVERTON ON SONG

Yesterday Somerset bowled Hampshire out for a beggarly 79, which even on a difficult pitch to bat on was never going to be enough. Byrom had replaced Banton at the top of the order, but that did not alter the start to the Somerset response – both openers fell cheaply. Hildreth was also out before Somerset took the lead. Bartlett and then Goldsworthy supported the adhesive Abell, 20 year old Goldsworthy especially impressive holding out a long time for his 24. Leach then came in as nightwatch, and did the first part of the job superbly, holding the fort until close of play, with Somerset 142-5. You might think that after an opening day like that things could only get better for the home side on day two, but you would be wrong. Leach hit six boundaries in the early part of the day as he took his score to 34. Abell was seventh out at 193, having chiselled out 64, an innings far more valuable than a double century against weak bowling on a flat deck. Davies and Overton shared a fine partnership, and then Gregory joined Overton and the good work continued, Overton overhauling Abell as top scorer for the innings during their ninth wicket stand. At 328 Overton finally fell for a well compiled 74. Josh Davey came in at no11, and saw the Somerset lead past 250, but at 336 he fell to end the Somerset innings, with Gregory unbeaten on 33. Keith Barker took 4-67 for Hampshire. Mysteriously Hampshire used Liam Dawson but not the wicket taking spinner Felix Organ. The Hampshire second innings is just getting under way.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Leicestershire v Surrey: Leicestershire, batting first, are 495-9. Sam Evans made a century, and Harry Swindells, the wicket keeper, has just joined him in reaching that landmark. Amar Virdi has toiled away, taking 5-170 from 44 overs for Surrey.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Middlesex scored 210 batting first, and Gloucestershire are 132-4 in reply. Robbie White scored 76 not out for Middlesex, David Payne took 5-31 for Gloucestershire. Kraigg Brathwaite scored 33 for Gloucestershire, James Bracey is 44 not out and Ian Cockbain 21 not out. Tim Murtagh, James Harris and Martin Andersson each have a wicket for Middlesex.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: Warwickshire scored 343 in the first innings and Worcestershire are 64-1 in reply. There were centuries for Robert Yates and Michael Burgess in the Warwickshire innings, while Ed Barnard took three wickets for Worcestershire. Libby is on 42 not out for Worcestershire, while Liam Norwell has the one wicket Warwickshire have claimed.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: This one has been affected by rain. Glamorgan are 226-6 in their first innings. David Lloyd made 78, while Callum Taylor and Dan Douthwaite are both in the 20s at the moment. James Anderson has 2-31, his 990th and 991st first class wickets, while Luke Wood also has two wickets.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex were rolled for 106 in the first innings, and only got that far thanks to Oliver Edward Robinson, who scored an unbeaten 49. Northamptonshire are 424-9 in response, Saif Zaib 135, Adam Rossington 87, Rob Keogh 66, and back at his day job, Robinson 5-58.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Essex batted first and were rolled for 99, Nottinghamshire replied with 323 and Essex are 46-0 in the second innings. Nick Browne made 53 for Essex and Luke Fletcher took 6-24 for Nottinghamshire. Steven Mullaney scored 117 for Nottinghamshire, with Lyndon James making 51 and Haseeb Hameed 49. Shane Snater took 7-98 for Essex, bowling right arm medium pace.

Yorkshire v Kent: Kent made 305 batting first and Yorkshire are 77-2 in response. Crawley made 90 for Kent, backed by 47 from Leaning, 40 from O’Riordan, mainly an off spinner, and 38 from keeper Oliver Graham Robinson. Ben Coad took 3-53 for Yorkshire.Ballance is 27 not for Yorkshire, with openers Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore both gone cheaply, and Joe Root 6 not out.

Remarkably, given their first innings batting, Hampshire have not lost a wicket while I have been typing this, but there have been several appeals, and their scoring rate remains painfully slow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs for you:

Wickets, Catches and the Odd Run

A look at Hampshire v Somerset in the county championship and a scout round the other grounds where action is taking place. Also some photographs and a mention of the elections taking place.

As I get deeper into this post about the early action in round five of the county championship you will realized while I have borrowed the title of Trevor Bailey’s autobiography for this post.

HORRENDOUS HAMPSHIRE

The game I am principally focussed on at present is Hampshire versus Somerset. Lewis Gregory is back for Somerset, his girlfriend having had the all clear after a Covid scare. Hampshire dropped Brad Wheal and Scott Currie, bringing in Liam Dawson and Felix Organ, two all rounders (Dawson bowls left arm orthodox spin, Organ off spin). Somerset won the toss and put Somerset in. Although Gregory was not at his best early on, overall Somerset bowled superbly, and actually could well be doing even better – several close LBWs have gone Hampshire’s way and at least on edge failed to carry to the slips. No one has made a significant score, and Captain Statpadder (aka J Vince) was once again MIA when faced with good bowlers and his team desperately needing runs. Hampshire are currently 75-8 with Kyle Abbot and Keith Barker batting together. Gregory has 3-22 and Overton 2-16, with Davey having just claimed his second wicket to make it 75-9, 2-32 for Davey. There has also been one comedy run out, accounting for Sam Northeast.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Leicestershire v Surrey: Leicestershire, batting first are 117-1, having lost Azad early. Sam Evans has 63 and Marcus Harris 47. Reece Topley has the wicket.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: Warwickshire are batting first and have reached 133-2, Robert Yates on 69, Sam Hain on 8. Pieter Malan made 32 on his Warwickshire debut, and Joe Leach and Ed Barnard have a wicket each.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Middlesex are 63-3, with a rain interruption at present. Gubbins is on 11 from 59 balls. David Payne, Ryan Higgins and Matt Taylor have a wicket a piece.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan are 97-2, with rain also affecting that one. James Anderson has claimed the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, gaining an early psychological point ahead of this winter’s Ashes tour. Saqib Mahmood, the young pretender, has the other wicket. David Lloyd is 60 not out.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex are batting first and are 87-8, a recovery after being 25-7 at low water mark. Oliver Edward Robinson, in the hunt for an England cap later this summer is unbeaten on 40. Stuart Meaker made 23, and Jack Carson, the young off spinner, is currently batting with Robinson. Ben Sanderson and Gareth Berg have each taken four wickets – Berg 4-16, Sanderson 4-23.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Essex, batting first, are 99-8. Luke Fletcher has 5-24, Stuart Broad 2-31. Nick Browne made 53 for Essex.

Yorkshire v Kent: Kent are 109-3, Zak Crawley 66 not out. Ben Coad, Jordan Thompson and Steven Patterson each have a wicket.

While I have been writing this up Hampshire have been finished off for a beggarly 79, Gregory 4-26, Weatherley 20, and Somerset are about to start their first innings.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Before I get to my main gallery, today is local/regional elections day. I have voted – in the county council election I voted for the Green candidate, Rob Archer, who is quite well known in these parts. In the Police and Crime Commissioner election I gave my first preference to the Green candidate and used my second preference as an insurance policy, giving it to Labour, an approach I may well have taken in the London Mayoral election if I still lived there, though there would have been a temptation to vote for Count Binface and give my second preference to the Greens just to ensure that a certain failed actor got the wooden spoon he so thoroughly deserves. The two pictures below show my tools for the polling station and my ballot papers:

Now time for the rest of my photos: